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Saturday 7 December 2019

Sterling row is dealt with: Southgate

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate insists his side have not struggled to focus on their match against Montenegro amid the fall-out from the clash between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.

The Manchester City forward has been sidelined from tonight's match at Wembley, England's 1,000th fixture, as a disciplinary measure following an altercation with Gomez.

"I think that we have dealt with everything. The reason we have tried to do that as quickly as possible is so we can focus fully on the match," said Southgate ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier. "Everybody has trained really well. The whole group are together now."

Southgate also responded to criticism that he has overreacted by dropping Sterling.

He added: "Everybody, when you are a leader or manager, will have an opinion on the decisions that you take. Only those who have been in this position really know all the details involved.

"Everybody will view it differently. You have to do what you believe to be the right thing. If you only try to take decisions that you think will keep people happy, that's not a route to take either. I have to do first and foremost what is right for the country, what's right for the team, all the while trying to look after the players."

Discussing how England might cope without Sterling, Southgate said: "Of course he is in outstanding form and he is an outstanding player, but we have a very good team out there tomorrow.

"We always select a team that we believe can win the match and one that is full of energy, full of speed and full of technical ability."

The England boss remains confident that Gomez is in the right frame of mind following the incident.

"Everybody in the squad is ready," he stressed. "That's hardly ever any different. Everybody is ready for the game."

England need just one more point to qualify for Euro 2020 and will also be through if Kosovo lose to Czech Republic tonight.

"I think as players we have a job and we have got a big game tomorrow night," said Manchester United defender Harry Maguire. "We are trying to qualify for the Euros, we are solely focused on that now. We have moved on from it."

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